Covid: Infection rates levelling off in England and Scotland

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Coronavirus infection rates are levelling off in England and Scotland and decreasing in Wales and Northern Ireland, latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

It shows rates in school-age children are still rising while falling in young adults.

The R number for the UK continues to fall and is now between 1 and 1.1.

But that doesn't yet reflect the impact of the second lockdown in England, introduced on 5 November.

The government's scientific advisers, Sage, say the epidemic in the north-west of England is now shrinking, although infection levels in the region still remain high.

The ONS survey, which covers the week to 14 November, tests people in thousands of households across the UK, whether they have symptoms or not. It does not include people in hospitals or care homes.

1 in 80 people in England have coronavirus1 in 155 in Scotland1 in 165 in Wales1 in 135 in Northern Ireland

This equates to nearly 39,000 infections a day in England, down from 50,000 the previous week.

But the picture across England's regions is mixed - rates of infections are rising in London and the south-east while coming down in the north and Midlands, the ONS says.

The highest levels of infection, meanwhile, are still in Yorkshire and the north-west.

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In Wales, infection rates appear to have decreased over the past two weeks after peaking around the end of October.

In Northern Ireland, they have been going down for four weeks. In Scotland, infection rates are now stabilising after rising through most of October.

Among school-age children, the percentage testing positive for Covid-19 may be rising slowly while levelling off in older teenagers, young adults and the over-25s - but the ONS says the sample size is small and there is uncertainty over the estimates.

The ONS estimate of infections is usually higher than the daily lab-confirmed cases announced by the government and are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the epidemic.

While the government figures are based on people with symptoms requesting a test, the ONS estimates are based on swab tests on everyone in a household.

On Thursday, 22,915 new positive tests were reported in the UK through this system - a similar tally to a week ago.

After promising results on several different vaccines against Covid-19 in the last week, the UK nations are preparing to roll-out a vaccine to some priority groups in December with most people receiving a jab next year.

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